AECOM celebrates increased diversity, inclusivity across the Middle East and Africa

Theme for International Women’s Day on 8 March is #BreakTheBias: Imagine a gender equal world

In celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March, global trusted infrastructure consulting firm AECOM highlights that its workforce is the most diverse it has ever been. This reflects the communities in which it serves, such as the fact that 40% of their African business is female and that 50% of all the professional certifications received over the last year were achieved by females.

Quantity Surveyor Stacie Moorhead.

AECOM’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion allows it to better anticipate its clients’ needs, understand the challenges facing the communities it serves, drive innovation that propels the industry forward, and achieve its purpose of delivering a better world.

To tackle the world’s most complex challenges, AECOM attracts, hires, and develops talented people of all backgrounds, and ensures inclusivity and fairness in its sourcing, interviewing, and hiring processes. Through its partnerships with non-profit organisations and universities, it offers robust internships, graduate development programmes, and volunteer opportunities that help give underserved populations access to Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education.

“I think AECOM is very aware of gender equality issues and is actively working towards improving and promoting women within the company at all levels. However, there is still work to be done in finding the right women to fill senior roles and retaining them to be much needed roles models and mentors,” says Associate Quantity Surveyor Stacie Moorhead.

“My interest in promoting the role of women in the construction industry and especially in management positions goes back to my university days where my honours dissertation was around this topic,” notes Stacie. She has participated in several programmes and associations through AECOM and externally, such as mCircles, WITBE, Mentoring for Success, RICS, SACQSP Assessments and Women’s Property Network.

Stacie commenced her career with AECOM legacy company Davis Langdon. “The teams I have worked with have seen my abilities regardless of gender and the fact that I am highly competent, willing to take on challenges, and am confident in my own capabilities. This has given me the opportunity to grow in my career, manage teams, learn more about the business, and meet a lot of colleagues across the country and the world.”

Quantity Surveyor Qabilah Abramjee 

Candidate Quantity Surveyor Qabilah Abramjee says AECOM is a forward-thinking organisation. It has a mentorship programme led by, and for, women to table any challenges, goals, and ideas to assist them to succeed in their roles. There is also a dedicated Diversity & Inclusion team that actively ensures that management is aware of gender equality issues and that policies are in place to support these ideals.

Qabilah acknowledges that more diverse management teams is a gradual process because historically females were limited when it came to their career development. “That may make it challenging to transform into a gender-equal management team overnight, but I do believe that there are currently many ambitious, capable, and well-trained female leaders in our business and in the industry, which will make breaking that bias much easier in the future.”

Elisabeth Nortje (Pri.Sci.Nat.), Market Sector Lead – Environment, Africa at AECOM

A welcome side-effect of the industry’s professional transformation is that traditionally ‘soft’ sciences like Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) are no longer perceived as the sole domain of women. “Globally there is a major focus on ESG as we move away from our dependence on fossil fuels, which ties into our own Sustainable Legacies programme,” says Elisabeth Nortje (Pri.Sci.Nat.), Market Sector Lead – Environment, Africa at AECOM.

“What I am most proud of is bringing ESG to bear on the engineering space. It has been a hard struggle to change the mindset of engineers, but the ratio of male to female engineers is steadily changing. When you walk into a boardroom or come into a project, you must fight that little bit harder to be heard, especially if you are an environmental manager, and even more so if you are a woman,” says Elisabeth.

“I am proud of every person under my mentorship whom I have seen grow and move on to bigger and better opportunities and challenges. That gives me the energy to continue what I am doing to change the consulting engineering space. By focusing on the kinds of projects we deal with, we not only make a significant impact on the environment, but on the local communities in which we work as well,” concludes Elisabeth.

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